Boeing would have given up on creating a new family of medium-capacity commercial jets, known by the acronym NMA (New Midmarket Airplane) and in its place is expected to develop a successor to the 757. These were the impressions of executive partners of the manufacturer heard on the website Leeham News.
According to Dómhnal Slattery, Avolon lessor CEO, the NMA project “is dead”, replaced by a single-aisle aircraft, an opinion shared by an executive at Pratt & Whitney, a supplier of Boeing turbofans.
Generally speaking, the new plane, possibly the so-called FSA (Future Small Airplane) project, would be a jet similar in size to the 757 and the Airbus A321XLR. But it should have a performance far superior to the 737 MAX and the A320neo family.
If these requirements are confirmed by Boeing, it means a huge change in the plans of the planemaker that intended to launch a new category of commercial jets, capable of offering great range and carrying more passengers than the current single-aisle planes.
But the compromise between performance and cost seemed to be almost impossible to obtain, after all it would be a clean sheet project, which requires more expensive and time-consuming development. The drama experienced by the company with the 787, its last 100% new aircraft, gives an exact idea of what Boeing expected.
In addition, by creating a new standard for the passenger jet, Boeing would risk having a product that could do nothing right: be less efficient than the 737 and A320 and not have the capability of some widebodies.
On the other hand, the 757, a program born to replace the 727 tri-jet, has accumulated more than a thousand aircraft produced, a very considerable volume for the time when it was conceived. Only a few years ago, the model stopped being efficient compared to the new planes and started to be replaced, especially in the USA, where it had greater acceptance.
More than anything, what Boeing does not need today is yet another time-consuming and complex program. When thinking about a new single-aisle jet, the manufacturer has all the experience with the 737 and 757 at hand and could give rise to a project that brings together recent advances while improving already tested solutions.
Faced with a series of more urgent difficulties, the company certainly still has time to decide which way to go, but it needs to keep in mind that this hypothetical plane should reach the market by the end of 2030, at the risk of seeing Airbus expand its participation in the segment even further.